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New Zealand

Chatham Islands

The Moriori people are thought to have arrived in the Chatham Islands off the coast of New Zealand either just before or at the same time as the first Māori were busy settling on the mainland. It is sometimes claimed that the Moriori were a race that settled in New Zealand previous to the arrival of ancestors of the Māori; however it appears that there is no evidence to support this belief.

War Canoe. New Zealand.

War Canoe. New Zealand.

The Moriori named these islands Rekohu, after the mist which hangs over the area. Here, the Moriori remained isolated until the European discoverers arrived in 1791. Although the Moriori are close relatives of the Māori, they have distinct features which indicate an independent colonisation from tropical Polynesia.

These first settlers were said to be descended from Te Aomarama and Rongomaiwhenua (which is Moriori for Sky Father and Earth Mother). Similarly to the Māori, inter tribal warring led to a dangerous decline in the number of the Moriori population, and this was said to have been stopped by the chief Nunuku Whenua, who ordered no more warring to take place so that the population would not become decimated. Waka Tau. The Maori War Canoe. Jeff Evans.If a dispute took place, the custom was to cease immediately at the first drawing of blood. In this way, the Moriori became a totally peaceful people.

The Moriori population increased to an estimated 2000, but later fell to around 1660 after the arrival of the first Europeans.

Captain Cook and The British

As leader of a British expedition to the South Seas, Captain Cook sailed from Plymouth on 26 August 1768 with a complement of ninety-four, including Joseph Banks and his retinue. By way of Cape Horn, they reached Tahiti on 13 April 1769 and duly made their observations on 3 June, meanwhile charting the islands and collecting natural history specimens.

Cook also had secret instructions to determine the existence of a southern continent propounded by geographical philosophers. Accordingly he sailed for New Zealand in August, circumnavigated the islands, charted its coast and took "formal possession."

Captain Cook Circumnavigating New Zealand

In 1840 the British began colonizing New Zealand. Most immigrants to New Zealand received some form of assistance either from the New Zealand Company or from a government or church association set up to encourage immigration.

Many of the vessels sailing from the United Kingdom before 1858 were operated by the Blackball and Willis, Gann and Co. lines. Walter Saville, a clerk, for Willis, Gann and Co. had great foresight and left the company and started his own company in partnership with Robert Shaw in 1859 by chartering vessels for the UK - NZ trade.

New Zealand

Smaller private companies continued to bring emigrants out to New Zealand throughout the years. Vessels were often chartered or sold between the shipping companies and this change of house flag often resulted in a name change for the vessel. When steam monopolized the emigrant trade many of the "white wings" were "sold foreign," resulting in a name change. Steamers opened the first mail route to New Zealand.

September 3, 1890, Colonies and India, London, England

The export of flax from New Zealand has kept up very well, notwithstanding the heavy fall in prices which occurred in the early part of the year. In 1884 the exports amounted to 4,042 tons, and in 1889 they had increased to 17,084 tons. Through the fall of prices many mills had ceased working about last March, but, from the returns just to hand, we learn that the output for the January-March quarter reached the respectable total of 8,405 tons, or nearly half as much as the total shipments for 1889. During the first six months of the present year 49,815 bales of flax were shipped to London, while in the same period 26,015 bales were sent to America.

January 19, 1891, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Of the Peaceful Sort, but It Is There, All the Same.

The summarized items from New Zealand printed in the Alta yesterday indicated the probability of a temporary dissolution of the New Zealand Government, and it now appears that precisely such an event has taken place.

The Hon. George McLean, who arrived on the Monowai yesterday, explained to an Alta reporter that the change implied no political cataclysm, revolution or convulsion. "The facts," said he, "are very simple. Sir Harry Atkinson, the Premier of New Zealand, is seriously ill, and there is grave doubt if he will be able to resume the duties of his otlice. Under these circumstances a reconstruction of the Administration is necessary, and it may be said, in a certain sense, that New Zealand is without a Government till the House meets on the 23d of this month."

Mr. J. W. McDonald, a passenger on the same steamer, who is a New Zealander, but has spent a considerable time in California, spoke more plainly on the subject. He said to an Alta reporter: "We have no Government in New Zealand at the present time. The Cabinet is all gone to the deuce. Sir George Gey, the Deputy Viceroy, has retired into private life, after a long and honorable career in New Zealand. The retiring Administration has made itself unpopular on certain local issues.''

In reply to a question on the subsidized Canadian steamship line, Mr. McDonald said it was more or less of a political move, the object being to keep the mother country in touch with the Australian colonies in case of the Suez canal being closed by a difficulty with European powers. He did not think any British line of steamers would be run across the Pacific without a big subsidy, which has not yet been guaranteed.


Auckland had been selected as the capital of New Zealand by Captain Hobson in 1840 as he liked the isthmus. The port is on the east coast of North Island and is situated on the sparkling waters of Waitemata Harbour surrounded by the city. Onehunga is situated on the west coast of the North Island and on the northeast shore of the immense Manukau Harbour, 27km from the Tasman Sea entrance. The first large party of immigrants arrived on aboard the Duchess of Argyle and the Jane Gifford on 10th Oct 1842.

June 22, 1872, Australia and New Zealand Gazette, London, United Kingdom


Last quarter there was an increase in the amount of customs duty collected in Auckland, and from the figures given below it will be seen that the quarter ending March 31 this year, as compared with the corresponding quarter of 1871, shows an increase of 10,685£. The abundance of labour caused by the public works now in progress has no doubt increased the consumption of goods among the working classes in the province. The advance is noticeable upon almost every description of goods, the leading increases being imported spirits, 1,338£; New Zealand spirits, 501£ cigars and snuff, 522£, tobacco, 860/; wine, 351£; tea, 435£; goods by measurement, at 5 schillings per cubic foot, 1,176£. All other goods, by measurement and weight, show increases. The Customs returns for the Thames district show the amount of duty collected during the quarter ending March 31 of this year to have been 3,712 4s 9d, while during the corresponding quarter of 1871 only 1,777£ was collected.

On April 17, in accordance with previous invitation, a large number of the prominent citizens of Auckland paid a visit to the splendid sidewheel steamer Nevada, to partake of luncheon with her commander, Captain J . Blethen. The favourite little steamer Devonport was employed to convey the guests aboard. As the steamer rounded-to under the Nevada's side-wheel, a welcome was thundered forth from the brazen throat of one of the ship's guns, and Captain Blethen cordially received his guests as they swarmed through the gangway. The following gentlemen were among those who accepted invitations: His Honour Judge Beckham, Messrs. E. Isaacs, H. Isaacs, E. Bucholz (German Consul), II. P. Barber, G. White (United States Consul), W. A. Graham, J . E . Coney, J . L. Campbell, W. C. Wilson, L. 1). Nathan, L. A. Nathan, J . Farmer, W. T. Buckland, A. Buckland, T. Broham, D. B. Cruickshank (Chilean. Consul), C. Williamson, James William, his Worship the Mayor, P. A. Philips, Esq., John Williamson, Captain M. Bailee, Captain Roberts, Captain Mellen, Captain Freeman, Captain Geerkens, Captain Dyson, Captain Whithead.

Lyttelton Harbour (Christchurch)

Lyttelton Harbour, a drowned volcanic cone on the east coast, is the port to the largest South Island city, Christchurch, which is minutes away by road or rail. Christchurch has been an important trade center on the fertile Canterbury Plains which extend south towards Timaru since William and John Deans, farmers, settled at Riccarton Bush about 1843. They named the Avon after a river in their native Scotland. Lyttelton was gazetted an official port-of-entry on 30th August 1849 and was renamed nine years later in honor of Lord George Lyttelton, chairman of the Canterbury Association.

The Canterbury Settlement.

The Canterbury Settlement, New Zealand. Sketch on board the "Randolph" Emigrant Ship. 1850

It was known as Port Cooper in the 1830s and appears as Port Victoria on a map of 1849. Edward Gibbon Wakefield and J.R. Godley formed the Canterbury Association to establish an Anglican settlement on the Canterbury Plains. William Deans arrived at Port Nicholson in January 1840 aboard the Aurora along with John Gebbie, wife and son. John Deans arrived in Nelson in 1842. Situated on the south side of Banks Peninsula is Akaroa Harbour, another deep crater, where the French established a colony 1840. Banks Peninsula was in honor of the botanist on the Endeavour Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820)

January 28, 1854, Australian and New Zealand Gazette

At a meeting of the New Zealand Company, on the 21st of October, 1852, Mr. Buckle is reported, in the Times of the 22nd, to have said: "The Canterbury Association (established in London on March 27, 1848) were the debtors of the New Zealand Company. They had repudiated the debt, because, as was alleged, the Directors of the New Zealand Company had appropriated a part of the public money to their own private purposes" (meaning the sums above alluded to, being part of an amount which Government had lent on the understanding that the Canterbury colony was to be promoted therewith). The meeting would be more surprised to hear that Mr. E. G. Wakefield, who was known as the prime mover of the Canterbury settlement, had himself received a portion of that money . . . he would suggest to the Committee that they should report on the sums received by Mr. Wakefield, not only on that but on other occasions, and as to what sums Mr. Wakefield's family had received."


The Canterbury Association Ships
East India Dock, London

October 8, 1853, Australian and New Zealand Gazette, London, United Kingdom


The ship William Prowse has landed a large number of sheep, horses, and cattle at Lyttelton in excellent condition, but the celebrated stallion, Aaronite, had died on the passage from Newcastle. The cattle were sold by auction, and realized from 11£ to 14£ per head, and the sheep were disposed of readily at 25s. each.


Napier is located on the east coast of North Island, in Hawke Bay. Ahuriri was renamed Napier when the Pakeha settled via overland routes in the late 1840's. Napier was declared a port of entry in 1855. The Royal Bride, 526 tons, from London under Captain Laker was wrecked at Napier on June 22nd 1863 two miles from the harbor entrance after dragging anchors. No lives were lost. She carried 24 assisted emigrants.

New Plymouth

New Plymouth was foundered by the Plymouth Company of New Zealand which purchased land from the New Zealand Company. Port Taranaki is located on the west coast of the North Island. The first emigrant vessel, the William Bryan, departed November 19, 1840 and arrived at Moturoa Beach March 30, 1841 with one-hundred and forty settlers from Devon and Cornwall.

August 22, 1849, British Banner, London, United Kingdom

New Zealand.

Chartered by the New Zealand Company, to Sail on the 1st of October next.

FOR NEW PLYMOUTH, NELSON, WELLINGTON, and OCTAGO, the splendid first-class passenger Ship, BERKSHIRE, A 1,580 tons register. JOHN WHYTE, Commander.

Lying at the Jetty, London Docks. The accommodations of this Ship are of a very superior character; the Company will appoint an experienced Surgeon, and provide Medicines and Medical Comforts. The rates of passage will be as follows; For each person fourteen years old and upwards, chief cabin, Forty-five Guineas; fore cabin, Twenty-five Guineas; steerage, Eighteen Guineas. For each child seven years old and under fourteen chief cabin, Twenty-seven Guineas; fore cabin, Fifteen Guineas; steerage, Ten Guineas. For each child one year old and under seven, chief cabin, Eighteen Guineas; fore cabin, Ten Guineas; steerage, Eight Guineas. Children under one year, not chargeable.

A separate agreement must be entered into with respect to Stern and Poop Cabins, and half a ton freight will be allowed to chief cabin, and half a ton to a fore cabin passenger.

A deposit is required of one-half the passage-money to be paid on securing the passage, and the remainder one day previous to embarkation<

For Freight, Passage, or further information, apply at New Zealand House; or to Joseph Stayner, 110, Fenchurch Street.

N-B. It is requested that the Port of Destination be distinctly marked on all Goods and Baggage, or similar notice given to the broker.

Port Nelson

Port Nelson is a natural haven situated in the SE of Tasman Bay, at the top of the South Island. During 1842, over three thousand people were brought into Nelson by the New Zealand Company in twenty four ships and by 1850 four thousand had come as company settlers. The first emigrant vessel into Nelson was the Fifeshire which arrived 1 February 1842, which is considered the date of establishment of the settlement. She was a 557 tons barque and had arrived in Wellington 16 January 1842 after departing London 26 September. The Fifeshire under the command of under Captain Arnold was wrecked while leaving Nelson on February 27, 1842 when the tide carried her onto Arrow Reef named after a vessel that was part of the survey expedition. During the second voyage out to New Zealand in May 1847 the Louisa Campbell bound from Auckland to Nelson via New Plymouth, grounded on sandbank two miles from Cape Farewell and became a total loss.

Queenstown letter from the White Star Line.
Queenstown Letter.

Australian and New Zealand Gazette, October 8, 1853, London, United Kingdom

We can at length congratulate our readers on the certain prospect of possessing Steam Navigation, for at least our own local purposes, within a comparatively short period. During the last fortnight a company, limited at present to a few members, has been formed, and having made arrangements with the Board of Trustees for a loan of 3,000£ from the Steam Fund for six years, without interest (which is equivalent to a yearly bonus of 240£, it has been determined to bring out immediately from England a screw steamer of about 80 tons, of a draft of water which will enable her to enter the Wairau river, and to run her between this port and the Wairau, calling at Wellington, and such other places in this province as shall be found most desirable. Should this experiment succeed, the present company will be in a favourable position for extending steam navigation throughout the colony, if not provided in the mean time by other parties; and we make no doubt but that the company will then be able to obtain a charter of incorporation, and raise the capital necessary for such an undertaking. The steamer now to be ordered will be of iron, and be rigged as a three-masted schooner, and it is intended that she shall possess every requisite for the comfort and convenience of a large number of passengers, and be adapted to the peculiar trade she is intended for, which will consist in a great measure in the carrying of wool and live stock.

Nelson Examiner.

Captain Cook in New Zealand.

Captain Cook in New Zealand. McBride

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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